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BRICK – After finding themselves down 24-3 through six bouts, Jackson Memorial had reeled off three consecutive wins and were roughly a minute away from a fourth. Brick Memorial’s Ruben Lizardi had other plans.

Trailing 5-3 in the 170-pound bout, Lizardi managed to take down senior Dylan Fischer and subsequently earn two back points. In an instant, the junior took a 7-5 lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. With the win, Lizardi gave the Mustangs three crucial points and helped contribute to top-seeded Brick Memorial’s 37-26 victory over their A-South rivals, who were the number two seed in the Central Jersey Group 4 bracket.

“In my mind, that match was mine,” Lizardi said, explaining his mindset as he walked onto the mat to face Fischer. “I needed it for my team, [Jackson Memorial] started building some momentum with that tech, and I’m like ‘Alright, this has to stop.’”

Brick Memorial head coach Mike Kiley expected the Jaguars to go on a run at some point and had full confidence in Lizardi and the rest of his team heading into the final five bouts. “We knew where we started, there was going to be a spot in the match where they were going to rally off a couple,” Kiley said. “We prepared our kids for that, they knew what the game plan was, they knew what their job was and they stuck to it.”

The Mustangs won eight of 14 bouts including three pins and a tech fall. Junior David Szuba picked up one of the pins at 195 pounds, forcing a fall in one minute against senior Mike Fiore. Szuba’s win allowed Kiley and the Mustangs to forfeit the final two bouts at 220 and 285 pounds as their 37-14 advantage was insurmountable.

Freshman phenom Anthony Santaniello and junior Brett Blaess started off the evening at 106 pounds. Santaniello entered the third period with a 4-2 advantage and promptly executed a take down, earning three near fall points in the process. After allowing Blaess to escape, the freshman managed to get one more take down and earn the 11-3 major decision victory. Braden Scott followed up with a 6-1 win over Andrew Cennamo in a battle of the sophomores at 113 pounds.

The first tech fall of the match came at 120 pounds as Vincent Santaniello handled Luke Temple 16-1, securing at least two takedowns in each period. Michael Richardson, one of the seniors on the Mustang roster, pinned Joe Matias at 1:02 at 126 pounds, opening up an 18-0 advantage for Brick Memorial through four bouts.

The Jaguars finally got on the board at 132 pounds when Lance Hobbs got the best of Michael Cate, although the latter battled hard to prevent a major decision. Hobbs built up an 8-1 lead and allowed Cate to escape in an attempt to get one more take down and earn an extra point for his team. However, Cate picked up a take down of his own late in the third period making the final score 8-4 in favor of Hobbs.

Ryan Smith pinned George Ebid in 5:41 at 138 pounds, extending the Mustangs lead to 21 with eight bouts remaining. The Jaguars were in need of a big run and for a while it seemed like they were on the right track. Nick White won 3-0 over Victor DiPianta at 145 pounds while Mike Ruach got the best of Cory Martin in a 5-0 decision at 152 pounds.

Rob Lagravenis followed with a big tech fall over JT Henderson at 160 pounds. After a relatively tame first period that saw Lagravenis take a 6-1 lead, the Jaguars junior outscored Henderson 12-5 in the second period before earning his tech fall in the third. Suddenly, Jackson Memorial had cut the deficit to a manageable 10 points with five bouts remaining.

10 points was as close as the Jaguars would make it, though, as the Mustangs went on their own three-bout win streak. After Lizardi’s victory at 170, senior Joe Colon was on the winning end of a 12-4 major decision over Hunter Smith, setting the stage for Szuba’s quick pin that locked up the victory for the home team.

Brick Memorial earned its 16th sectional title in program history (and first since 2015) with the 37-26 win. The Mustangs will go up against Kingsway in the Group 4 semifinals on Sunday morning at 9 AM at Toms River North High School. If they pull out another victory, they’d face the winner of the North Hunterdon-Mount Olive match-up, which will also take place at 9 AM. Still, even if Brick Memorial’s run ends before noon on Sunday there’s still a lot to be excited about.

“This is huge,” Kiley said about the sectional title. “This puts Brick Memorial back on the map. I’m so happy for these kids. They worked so hard, they earned this.”

Box Score

106: Anthony Santaniello (BM) md. Brett Blaess 11-3

113: Braden Scott (BM) d. Andrew Cennamo 6-1

120: Vincent Santaniello (BM) tf. Luke Temple 16-1

126: Michael Richardson (BM) p. Joe Matias 1:02

132: Lance Hobbs (JM) d. Michael Cate 8-4

138: Ryan Smith (BM) p. George Ebid 5:41

145: Nick White (JM) d. Victor DiPianta 3-0

152: Mike Rauch (JM) d. Cory Martin 5-0

160: Rob Lagravenis (JM) tf. JT Henderson 21-6

170: Ruben Lizardi (BM) d. Dylan Fischer 7-5

182: Joe Colon (BM) md. Hunter Smith 12-4

195: David Szuba (BM) p. Mike Fiore 1:00

220: Kyle Epperly (JM) by forfeit

285: Unknown (JM) by forfeit

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